Why don’t people write reviews of Kindle books?
I wrote last year about a neat trick I’d found:
Recently, a reader, jubunam, noted that Mockingjay had fewer than 20,000 reviews, and wanted to know why.
It’s a reasonable question.
Back in 2012, it was being reported that 9 million copies of the book had been sold…and it’s continued to sell well since.
Not only has it sold, but it has been a popular title in
and presumably, many more people have read it than copies/licenses have been sold.
That’s true even with Kindle books (although reviews combine formats…paper and electronic reviews both show up on both).
If I “buy the book” from the USA Kindle store (really, I license the reading rights), many people on my account could have read it…and with p-books, it’s been big in the used book market and checked out of public libraries (at least, that would be my assumption).
So, I think we can reasonably say that fewer than 1% of people who read Mockingjay posted a review on Amazon.
My guess would be that the percentage of readers posting reviews is typically much higher on one with fewer sales, especially indies (independently published books).
My sibling’s book,
has 63 customer reviews (with an average of 4.7 stars out of 5) at the time of writing…and I’ll say confidently that it hasn’t sold 63,000 copies/licenses. :)
So, I think since writing a review is so rare, it’s like a green sheep. The question becomes not, “Why are other sheep white?” but, “Why is that sheep green?” ;)
The question is, why do people write a review?
I think there are a few main reasons.
One is to support the book. That would seem like the most obvious one…you like the book, you want others to read it, you write a review.
There is also the flipside: you want to warn people about what you think is a bad book.
You may also want to support the author or the publisher. This might not be the best book from that author/publisher, but you want to promote them more generally. I see this in reviews, “If you want to read a great book by so-and-so, read ‘X’…this is a good book, but not the best.” Similarly, if it’s a publisher with personality, you may want to promote them.
People write reviews to support (or oppose) a cause as well. The book is a symbol of something for you, and you take the advantage of the platform to voice your opinion.
Reviews may be written to support or oppose something that’s less of a cause, more of a policy…like the price of books, or the lack of the ability to lend a book.
Some people just like to write. ;) Book reviews are one form of expression, and they are one that people see. On Amazon, you can get feedback on your reviews. You can have your review show up as a “most useful” review, for example.
There are people who see writing reviews as a kind of fame.
People also write reviews so that publishers will send them other books to review.
Some reviews are written because people have a financial interest in the book, or otherwise personally gain from the book selling. Those aren’t supposed to happen, and Amazon has gone after people who sell good reviews on Amazon (“For $5, I’ll give your book a 5-star review”).
For some people, it becomes a habit. They review every book they read.
I think those are probably the main reasons.
I’d say the main reason people don’t write reviews is…inertia, basically. It takes an effort to write a review, and if you do nothing, the net result is that you haven’t written one. That’s the default.
Let’s do a quick poll:
What do you think? Are there other reasons people write reviews? Do the number of reviews on a book influence you? Why have you or haven’t you written a review? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.